blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 3.01 - Here There be Monsters

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 3/18/13 on another forum:

Blurb: A new adventure with the First Doctor as told by his grand-daughter, Susan.

“It was a terrible sound, like someone had just stabbed the Universe and it was crying out in pain”

The distant future. The TARDIS, with the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara aboard, is drawn out of the Vortex and lands aboard the Earth Benchmarking Vessel Nevermore, where Captain Rostrum is navigating by punching holes in the very fabric of space. The Doctor is appalled by this act of vandalism, and fearful that it could unleash monsters from the dark dimensions.

As the benchmarking holes begin to fray, the fate of the universe is at stake. And while the Doctor contemplates a terrible sacrifice, Susan befriends the Nevermore’s First Mate - someone she will remember for the rest of her life…

Format: Limited-cast audio drama, a Companion Chronicle from the point-of-view of Susan. Published by Big Finish Productions and released July 2008.

Setting: The Earth Benchmarking vessel, Nevermore, time unknown but likely sometime in the late 25th or early 26th centuries since Earth is just getting to the point where it needs to create accurate plots to far off points in space. Susan narrates the story from some time in her future but prior to her narrating the events of Quinnis.

Continuity: This story is set between The Reign of Terror and Planet of Giants. In the framing sequence, Susan mentions her husband, so she must have narrated this story prior to his death (see Quinnis). Susan mentions that she was an accidental passenger on the TARDIS (see Lungbarrow). She also mentions her time at Coal Hill School as well as her meeting with the Daleks (An Unearthly Child and The Daleks, respectively). She's never told David that she isn't human (see The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The Nevermore is benchmarking space to create accurate points which stellar navigators can use to steer through the galaxy. This implies that it is either before or in the very early days of the Earth Empire (see Frontier in Space, The Mutants).

Canonicity Quotient: For the most part the references in this story work well and it slots into the potentially large gap between Reign of Terror and Planet of Giants. There are also some nice hints that this gets Susan thinking about leaving the Ship, which would explain the framing sequence in The Alchemists. However, the old fan theory that Susan ages slowly despite not being a Time Lord comes up again. While this agrees with Legacy of the Daleks it is flatly contradicted by the TV series and most of the extra-canonnical sources. Doctor Who's first producer also confirmed that it was always their intention that Susan was 15 years old. Any older and many of her actions in the series would not make any sense. This docks the story some points but as its the only canonnical issue and only comes up as an aside and is not important to the story it does not effect it much. 0.95

Discussion: So I decided that since I started with Quinnis that I'd proceed with another Carol Anne Ford narrated Season One story. The only one narrated only by herself was Here there be Monsters. I really liked this one although I was disappointed that unlike Quinnis the story was told almost in a complete vacuum. Susan is telling the story but we have no idea when she's telling the story or why. I preferred the context of the other story. The idea of a Plant Based Lifeform controlling ships seems like a neat idea but at the same time it seems odd that we've never seen this kind of thing before. I originally dated it as a very late story but when when we learned about the nature of the Benchmarking expedition and the Doctor categorically states that its part of the Earth Empire it seems that this must be a very early Earth Empire story dating it in the 23rd or 24th centuries. We've seen the idea of monsters not really being monsters before in Galaxy Four and Frontier in Space and I rather liked the idea of both sides seeing each other as the barbarric menace when really both are civilized and capable of coming to an agreement if they'd just try. The characters were well written and reminded me of their television counterparts and Carol did a great job of reading for all the parts.

I was not a big fan of the implication that Susan was much older than 15 years old. This is something that Carol Anne Ford has put forward in multiple interviews I know, but Verity was always clear that the intention was for Susan to be 15 and that agrees with the vast sum of information we have from the show and the expanded universe of books/audios. She never really acts with a maturity level to show a wisdom beyond her apparent years nor does she seem to have the memories to go back that far.

It was a struggle for me listening to this because the actor playing the first mate sounds just like William Russell. I kept on thinking his lines were Ian's and had to keep reminding myself that he was another character.

In the end though it was a good story as I've come to expect from Andy Lane (don't think I'm aware that he's produced any clunkers ever). I hope to hear more of the quality of the last two that I've listened to.

Final Rating: 9/10

Recomendation: Another fantastic story from season one. Susan is characterized beautifully and you see how she feels about always being ignored even though she if often right about what she says. Her relationship with the First Mate is well done as she grows to respect and admire this man and his fatherly atittude towards her just makes the ending far more poignant. Carol Anne Ford is also fantastic doing her own role as well as those of the rest of the TARDIS crew and Captain Rostrum is creepy. Great job overall and I strongly recommend this as one to listen to.
Tags: an unearthly child, andy lane, audio drama, carole ann ford, companion chronicles, dalek invasion of earth, daleks, doctor who, first doctor, frontier in space, here there be monsters, lungbarrow, mutants, planet of giants, quinnis, reign of terror, season 1b, susan foreman

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